US embassy cable - 02ANKARA7726

TURKEY'S ELECTIONS: OUR ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

Identifier: 02ANKARA7726
Wikileaks: View 02ANKARA7726 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ankara
Created: 2002-11-01 10:33:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL ECON TU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 007726 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
CENTCOM AND EUCOM: PLEASE PASS TO POLADS AND J-5 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/04/2012 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, ECON, TU 
SUBJECT: TURKEY'S ELECTIONS: OUR ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS 
 
REF: ANKARA 7713 
 
 
(U) Classified by DCM Robert Deutsch.  Reason: 1.5(b)(d) 
 
 
1. (C) Summary:  The Islam-influenced AK (Justice and 
Development) of R. Tayyip Erdogan will be the clear winner in 
the Turkish national elections on Nov. 3, and has a strong 
shot at a Parliamentary majority.  Deniz Baykal's 
Establishmentarian, left-of-center Republican Peoples' Party 
(CHP) will probably finish second, though the gap between it 
and the rest of the pack will be relatively small.  How other 
major parties will fare -- and whether they make it over the 
10% national vote threshold and into Parliament -- may well 
now be the critical factor for Turkey's immediate politicfal 
future.  End summary. 
 
 
---------- 
AK is Here 
---------- 
 
 
2. (C) AK will win big.  The party's own poll numbers suggest 
that it will get at least 30 percent of the vote.  In our 
view, such figures represent low-end, conservative estimates 
sustained over a considerable period of time.  We are 
inclined to put AK in the mid-30s at least, with a legitimate 
shot at still more. 
 
 
-- The remaining question is not whether AK will win a 
plurality of the vote, but by how much -- and whether its 
margin of victory will grant it a parliamentary majority, 
perhaps one sufficient (367 of 550 seats) to amend Turkey's 
Kemalist constitution.  This is well within the realm of the 
possible. 
 
 
-- Continuing last-ditch efforts by the Deep State to clip 
the party's wings and shave its vote tally could have an 
impact on the outcome -- with observers divided over whether 
such moves will generate a popular reaction that could 
actually enhance rather than limit AK's numbers.  Recent 
ham-handed attempts by the State to undercut AK include: 1) 
Appeals Court and Election Board decisions to rule Erdogan 
ineligible to stand for elections; 2) the recent filing of a 
closure case against AK; 3) statements by President Sezer 
widely interpreted as hinting he might not grant the mandate 
to form a government to a victorious AK; and 4) last-minute 
legal proceedings raising the possibility of post-election 
annulment of AK votes on yet another technicality -- 
Erdogan's name is still listed on the ballot as Party 
Chairman. 
 
 
-- Supporters of the Islamist Saadet Party and former P.M. 
Necmettin Erbakan, its de facto leader, are also sensing an 
AK victory and appear to be gravitating to Erdogan, which 
would keep Saadet on the sidelines after Nov. 3. 
 
 
--------------------- 
CHP Second by Default 
--------------------- 
 
 
3. (C) CHP will wind up a distant second, probably in the 
mid-teens though with an outside shot at 20 percent of the 
vote on election day.  CHP is trying to portray itself as the 
Kemalist Establishment's champion and only viable alternative 
to AK.  However, CHP has done little to capture the popular 
imagination, and indeed has alienated many centrist voters. 
Whereas AK support cuts across a broad swath of the 
socio-political pie, CHP's appeal is confined to 
left-of-center urban voters.  Moreover, CHP has made numerous 
strategic and tactical errors that are costing it the chance 
to monopolize the roughly 30 percent of the vote that 
traditionally is apportioned to the left here.  As Kemal 
Dervis -- whose candidacy for CHP is proving more 
controversial than the secularist Establishment had expected 
-- confided to us this week, CHP is not making the progress 
it wanted.  He also lamented once again his decision to 
abandon the New Turkey (YT) Party of Ismail Cem. 
 
 
-- CHP local activists show none of the enthusiasm for Baykal 
and the party that is the rule on the AK side.  A CHP 
activist in Zongludak, a Black Sea haven of the labor 
constituency, expressed concern that divisive Baykal would 
"bring the country down" if he becomes Prime Minister.  A 
journalist at the Kemalist Cumhuriyet daily told us he would 
vote for Baykal, even though "I hate him." 
 
 
-- CHP, moreover, has failed to monopolize the Aegean region, 
which was crucial to the victory of Bulent Ecevit's 
Democratic Left (DSP) in 1999. 
 
 
-- Notably, Izzetin Dogan, one of the leading voices of an 
Alevi community that has traditionally backed the center-left 
and CHP, is signaling publicly that his co-religionists are 
not in any way indebted to CHP, nor should they feel 
compelled to vote for it. 
 
 
-------------------------------- 
Curtains for Current GOT Parties 
-------------------------------- 
 
 
4. (C) Despite Ecevit's full-court effort to stoke secularist 
and nationalist fears among an anxious electorate, his DSP 
looks set to finish below the 10% national vote threshold and 
out of Parliament -- though it could pull in sufficient votes 
to hurt CHP.  Similarly D/P.M. Mesut Yilmaz' ANAP 
(Motherland) is playing its support for EU-related 
democratization for all its worth, and the party gets credit 
on the local level and for some of its regional candidates. 
Nevertheless, ANAP appears to need a miracle to overcome 
general public distrust of Yilmaz and reach the threshold. 
Voters also seem set to punish Deputy P.M. Devlet Bahceli's 
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) by keeping it out of the 
next Parliament.  MHP's militant grassroots see Bahceli as 
failing to deliver on his ultranationalist campaign promises. 
 However, the MHP base has a reputation for blind loyalty and 
could return to the fold on election day. 
 
 
----------------- 
Genc and the Rest 
----------------- 
 
 
5. (C) The Genc (Youth) Parti of Motorola deadbeat Cem Uzan 
could well emerge as the surprise of the 2002 race.  Some 
observers compare the rise of Genc to that of MHP, which came 
in from the political fringe to capture 18% of the vote in 
the 1999 elecitons.  Genc and MHP share some of the same 
xenophobic and populist ideological convictions and compete 
for the same constituency -- MHP insiders admit to us 
privately that Genc is cutting into their support base. 
Nevertheless, there are some significant differences.  Uzan 
has vast media and financial resources denied to MHP.  On the 
other hand, MHP, unlike Genc, has a decades-long track record 
and is a known quantity among voters, attributes that made it 
a viable "protest" vehicle for disaffected voters in 1999. 
While some of our contacts dismiss Genc's chances to clear 
the 10% threshold, others insist in might attract up to 
12-14% on election day -- which would threaten CHP's hold on 
second place. 
 
 
-- Another potential surprise is the pro-Kurdish DEHAP 
(Democratic People's Party), which is within striking 
distance of the vote threshold.  Like previous pro-Kurdish 
parties, DEHAP is set to dominate in the Kurdish southeast 
(with AK a possible second). Unlike its predecessors, DEHAP 
seems to have picked up support from migrant Kurds in the 
western cities, in central Anatolia, and even in the Black 
Sea region -- votes which in the past have gone to Erbakan 
and his Islamist parties. 
 
 
-- The True Path Party (DYP) of Tansu Ciller is on the bubble 
but, according to various contacts, has gained ground among 
rural Anatolian voters in recent weeks and might well reach 
the threshold (reftel). 
 
 
------------------ 
Comment: Get Ready 
------------------ 
 
 
6. (C) The race for 10% is still not completely decided -- 
and so neither is the breakdown of the post-election 
Parliament, which could host as few as two and as many as six 
parties.  The outcome will also have a major impact on how 
seats are apportioned, and thus, on the potential AK majority 
or on leaders' calculations as to possible coalition 
alternatives.  The bottom line: whatever the ultimate 
arithmetical outcome, we should expect significant changes in 
Turkey. 
PEARSON 

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